Kaohsiung is a vibrant and youthful city with lots to do and see for new visitors. From the thriving food and restaurant industry to the impressive arts and cultural scene, Kaoshiung perfectly caters to those on a quick city break, or visitors looking for a longer, more in-depth exploration of the area.
Whether you’re hoping to relax on a beach for the weekend (yes, Kaoshiung even has beaches!), or you feel like delving into the city’s fascinating culture and history, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes in the city. And with Kaohsiung only 3.5 hours direct from Singapore with China Airline, you’ll be enjoying the city in no time!
Just take a look at our top 5 favorite things to do in this great city:
1. Visit Pier 2 Arts Area
What was once a run-down warehouse in an industrialized zone of the city is now a thriving arts and cultural hub, brought to life by the colors, creativity and inspired regeneration of the area by local artists.
From abstract structures to in-your-face giant robots, the Pier 2 Arts Area is a pure explosion of Kaohsiung’s best creativity and talent, proudly displayed for the enjoying of visitors.
Walk along the area and visit the various arts pieces, discover more ‘hidden’ gems around corners and down alleys, or pay the small entrance fee to enter the galleries.
Often featuring local and international exhibitions, make sure to check out the official website before visiting to see what’s going on in the area.
Opening times at the Pier are Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and Friday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm. The Pier 2 Arts Area is located at No.1, Dayong Rd., in the Yancheng District of Kaohsiung City.
2. Experience the Kaohsiung
A visit to Taiwan is definitely not complete without a foray into the unique and exciting world of night markets, and Kaohsiung is home to some of the best in the country.
Kaohsiung’s night markets specialize in mouth-watering local dishes at low prices, including aboriginal, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Chinese-influenced cuisine. Experience the best of Taiwanese food in the night markets, with everything from the famous ‘stinky tofu’ dish to delicious desserts and drinks. However, you’ll also find a range of other goods on offer, such as clothes, household items and more.
We recommend the famous Ruifeng night market (Yucheng Rd. in the Zuoying District), the Liuhe night market (Liùhé 2nd Rd. in the Xinxing District) and Guang Hua (Guanghua 2nd Rd. in the Lingya District) for an interesting experience of the best of Kaohsiung’s night markets.
3. Take a Day Trip to Cijin Island
Just five minutes from the mainland is the very slender Cijin Island, a city district of Kaohsiung. It’s so easy, quick and cheap to get here, that there’s no excuse for skipping this on a visit to Kaohsiung.
The island is very popular due to its several sandy beaches and fresh seafood available on every street corner. Swimming at the beaches is really enjoyable and safe, but expect lots of crowds during the summer months, as locals and tourists escape from the mainland to come and cool down in the ocean.
A lighthouse and fort on the island, named Cijin Lighthouse and Cihou Fort, dating back to the 19th Century provide great views of Kaohsiung’s skyline, especially as the sun sets over the ocean. Other worthwhile attractions include the YM Museum of Maritime Exploration and the old Tianhou Temple.
Get to Cijin Island by taking a ferry from the Gushan Ferry Pier. One-way tickets are very cheap, at around NTD$15 per person.
4. Visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are extremely symbolic of Kaohsiung, standing proudly among the sprawling and peaceful Lotus Lake.
Go here to marvel at the impressive structures, enter the mouth of a giant dragon and exit from a ferocious tiger. Taiwanese tradition states that entering the throat of a dragon and exiting through the mouth of a lion symbolizes turning bad luck into good fortune.
Inside the pagodas are even more fascinating; with dozens of interesting Chinese paintings symbolizing both heaven and hell to inspire people to live morally.
Make sure to also take in the beautiful surroundings of the park and lake around the pagodas, and continue your way down to the other structures in the area, such as the Spring and Autumn Pavillions, the Confucius Temple and the Fengshan County ruins.
5. See the Buddha Memorial Center
While some claim that the Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung has been overly commercialized, we still think there are few places more impressive than this site in the city.
The sheer scale of the center ignites a great sense of wonder and calm within visitors. With the giant Fo Guang Buddha statue overlooking the entire complex, visitors can stroll among the various impressive buildings, have lunch in one of the restaurants, or learn about Buddhism through the many art exhibits.
The walkway towards the Buddha statue, with the pyramid shaped Memorial Hall and Bodhi Square before it, is lined with eight beautiful pagodas, each representing a Noble Eightfold Path. The complex is also said to contain the tooth relic of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
The Memorial Centre is open from 9am to 7pm on weekdays and from 9am to 8pm on weekends.